Friday, April 18, 2014

The Long Reach of ASL into Other Worlds

Back in the '90s, when I was a teenager and before I'd ever heard of Advanced Squad Leader, I played roleplaying games like Rolemaster, GURPS, and, of course, Dungeons and Dragons. Now, the second edition of AD&D was the longest-lived version of the game and also the one which enjoyed an immense amount of material devoted to it. Not only were there the basic rulebooks, but additional spellbooks, expanded class options, and monster books galore.

In the previous edition of AD&D, TSR had published several different books containing monsters: the Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Fiend Folio. These were separate, hardcover books just like the standard rulebooks. But for AD&D second edition--published in 1989--the research and development team decided on a different strategy: they would publish the Monstrous Compendium as a 3-ring binder. The first volume came with the binder and 144 sheets of monsters, with dividers; later volumes would come either as a shrink-wrapped set of monster sheets, or, for major expansions, include a new binder. A new monstrous compendium was released for each game-world TSR developed, and also annual releases containing reprints from other sources, such as TSR's magazines, Dungeon and Dragon.

The complete collection of all the Monstrous Compendia

Why am I writing about this in an ASL blog? Because TSR got the idea for this organization from ASL, according to Steve Winter, who worked in R&D for the company at the time:

"The idea of a 3-ring binder, we were kicking that around a lot...right about this time is when Advanced Squad Leader came out by Avalon Hill, with the rules in a 3-ring binder, so you could, you know, they were all organized by category, so they could publish errata and you could just file those pages in. And we thought that was such a great idea."

And of course, AD&D fans typically would put the sheets in page protectors, or even scan them and only use copies rather than the originals. So there you go.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

G2 Last Act in Lorraine; the first third.

The Last thing ever done in Lorraine! Americans attack a Chinese village in France?

I was overjoyed to be able to get this one going, since after playing G1 Timoschenko's Attack, I've been skipping around in the General, playing G6, G7, G8, and G15. When I saw a guy post on Gamequad looking for PBEM which said he'd play anything, I jumped and sent a PM right away. 

So far, this is perhaps the most fun I've had in an e-mail game. It's easily the most AFV-Intensive scenario I've played, with 13 tanks under my command, going up against 5 very good German vehicles, an AT gun and three little AA guns, the latter of which are no threat to my AFVs. The best thing about my tanks is all the smoke options--regular smoke, white phosphorous, and smoke mortars. I've been going crazy with it, too much, even blocking my own shots; but it's nice to maneuver relatively unhindered. 

After American turn 1
This is a very long scenario at ten turns. But I like it! So far, the game has been just maneuvering and getting into position, with the tanks stalking one another. And I'm grateful this is an email game because the AFV game feels a lot more like Chess, requires more planning, and, for one at my level of rules knowledge, plenty of time looking things up to make sure I can do certain things. Mastering the intricacies of Smoke is particularly troublesome. 

After my initial Smoke barrage didn't work out the way I wanted it to, I decided to avoid going up the middle and instead I split my forces in two. The plan was to go around the flanks and conduct a pincer movement, coming at the town from behind, which would also deny a lot of fire opportunities to the German VGs at the outset. This worked out well and one tank of mine was able to take out a VG early on with a side shot. And I pushed on. 

Group left dismounted the infantry early on. I was hoping to set up a firebase in the stone building there in P2, but German OBA stymied that plan. Thankfully, the OBA didn't actually kill anyone, and I was able to spread out enough that, given all the inaccuracies and so on, the Germans eventually ran out of black cards. The German JdgPz moved forward a bit in this sector, but I was able to position a tank to cover the O hexrow with side-aspect shots, forcing one of them to back up again.

Left Flank
But I kept flanking left, taking three tanks around the Gully--these would get into a position to fire on the JgPzs in the rear with impunity, really. 

The annoying part, to me, was that this move took too long. I wanted to push ahead with my infantry--tanks alone don't capture buildings--but I couldn't take the rout I'd originally planned for as long as those JgPzs stood in my way. So I decided to run them off to the left of the hedge and up toward the Gully, using the smoke for cover. I will still be able to reach my goal, but in a longer time. I'm beginning to wonder at some point whether I'm too focussed on the tank game here: the VCs are about building control, not tank-busting. But the AFVs are so much fun!!

Meanwhile on the right flank, I push on toward the cemetery. My plan here is to get the infantry in there to assault the church, which is one of my objectives. (As of now, I'm thinking I won't even try for the market building.) And the Germans, during their turn, move both of the VGs over to that direction, which is a scary proposition, since we're up against the board-edge. There's not much room to maneuver here, since he's going around the cemetery, and I don't want to drive my AFVs in there without my infantry scouting it out first. But as he's moving one up, he opens himself up to a side shot from one of my stopped AFVs--do I make a Motion attempt or fire? If I fire, I'm a sitting duck, and frontal armour facing or no, if that 75LL gun hits me, I'd dead. But I take the shot--miss. Since he's in Bypass and spent 2 MP, I go again. Who cares if I Malf my gun with IF? I'm dead anyway. 

And I miss again. But I was worried about nothing, because in the DFPh I have a guy fire smoke to cover me. In my next movement phase, I play fast and loose with my heavy tank, which gets Burned to a crit; but at least all the smoke and wreckage gives cover to my over AFVs to extricate themselves from the oncoming VGs. I get everyone dismounted and ready to move into the cemetery under a massive smokescreen.

Situation Right Flank Turn 3
But I'm still worried about those Panthers--what's he going to do? he could charge forward like a raging bull; with front AF of 18 there's not much I could do. I move one AFV behind the burning tank, figuring that if he does that I'll get a side shot. On the other hand, they might go back around, threatening my flanks. The best I can figure to do is utilize my smoke Mortars and lay down Acquisition during the AFPh along likely avenues of approach. Not that this would necessarily stop them, but at least I may be able to get an acquired side-aspect shot out before I die. 

However, both the the Panthers take a completely different approach. Instead, they turn tail and flee into the interior of the village hoping, I suppose, to threaten my other flanking force and also make it more difficult to outmanouvre them. The German infantry begins to fall back into the victory buildings, at once opening up space for me to advance but also solidifying the defense. And so turn 4 starts out with both JgdPzs seriously threatened, but one of the Panthers is threatening me back. I'm still not in the town, but I'm on the brink of getting in somewhere. I'm excited to see this play out. 

Beginning of Allied Turn 4

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ASL Dream

Reaching full immersion stage, like when I was learning Greek and dreaming in the language, now I'm dreaming ASL. Last night I dreamed I was playing an outdoors variant of the game. We made huge, blown-up counters, about two feet square, out of foam blocks, and lay them about outside. When moving a unit we picked one up and walked around with it. Other players (this was a team effort) stood by the opposing units and declared shots when you came into view, and cast massive plush dice on the ground for the rolls.

Monday, January 6, 2014

So much ASL right now, I'm drowning

I'm now in a Fanatic ASL phase. This year I've already completed two games, 27 The Liberation of Tulle and 32 Subterranean Quarry, and have seven more either in progress or about to be. I'm worried that I'll reach a saturation point, burn out, and not really play much for several months. I mean, look at all this--

In Progress:

5 In Sight of the Volga. PBeM. Slow going, but mostly because my German opponent is careful and sends logs with only a few moves at a time, waiting to see my reactions before deciding how else to move. I've started this scenario two other times by email only to have it die each time. Here's to finishing this one for real! I've wanted to play it for a long time. I'd love to play it live as well.

9 To the Square. PBeM. This one is going at a glacial pace--seven weeks in, we're still on Turn 2. I have doubts this one will finish and I'm going to start looking for a new opponent. If this game picks up and I play it twice, so be it; it seems fun. Not too much has happened yet; the Poles are right at the 1/21 board edge and have lost a squad and one T-34. It's clearly too early for me to evaluate how it's going for me. No screenshot since I have HIP stuff going on that isn't revealed.

30 Sylvan Death. Live VASL. Andy and I started this and got through a turn before we realised VASL version incongruities were messing things up. This is a very cool "everyone's hiding" type of game, where the Germans have to clear out a Partisan camp and kill everyone. In turn 5 I can start running off the map. Obviously the strategy is to hide, survive as long as I can, then run away.

31 The Old Town. Live VASL. OK, what's up with this scenario? On ROAR it looks balanced (39-38), so we picked it for the first round of the VASL tournament. But then when doing my setup, I looked up a couple of AARs and found that many people think it is horribly unbalanced in favour of the Germans. I'm the Partisans, and after the initial bombardment, I felt about ready to concede! I lost 5 CVP already to rubbled buildings and several squads broke, including my HIP guy. We'll see how it goes, but the Germans have seven turns and start off right on top of me, as well has having an overwhelming firepower advantage. Sure, they are Lax, but I'm only going to be going 1-2 against them in CC probably, so big deal.

Turn 2. Not much to see as of yet.
G2 Last Act in Lorraine. PBeM. I'm the Americans in this armour-heavy scenario which clearly served as the model for the Singling HASL (compare the SSRs). This is a good one for me to play, because my AFV game is not strong due to lack of experience and this forces me to re-read rules pertaining to them and practice procedures. Not too much has happened yet. As a ten-turn scenario, there's plenty of time and space for maneuver, and I'm still getting into position, thankfully covered by plenty of smoke. I have lost half a squad, though, when I rolled (6,6) on a Bail out MC. I should stop knocking my guys off the tanks with the TCA change trick. Thankfully the German OBA hasn't been terribly effective. I predict that in the next turn we're going to see some burning vehicles, though.

I also have two games in preparation:

46 Birds of Prey. Live VASL. After finishing up Subterranean Quarry last night (is that scenario supposed to be fun?), Mark and I settled on Birds of Prey, primarily as a vehicle for learning the Air Support rules. I mean, it doesn't appear balanced if ROAR is true. I did my German setup quickly, mostly because the scenario doesn't give the Germans many setup options. I had to set up on the bottom board so hunkered down near the bridge I must defend. The Belgians have to set up on the top board--thus the ten-turn scenario will involve them wandering across the middle board and getting hammered by Stukas, then trying to dislodge a smallish group of Fallschirmjaegers. Good luck with that! Mark and I decided to not give the Belgians the balance on this one, which limits the German Air Support, mostly because we want to go through the procedures as much as possible to help learn it. There don't seem to be many scenarios with Air Support, though, at least not in the early modules.

G4 First Action. PBem/Live VASL. I haven't even finished my setup for this one, which is a much more complex situation. I have to defend the board 12 village against a solid American attacking force. One of the big American advantages in this one, I think is the fact that they have so much room to maneuver, coupled with the fact that the setup restrictions force me to thin out. I'm going to have to identify where his main effort is and shift units around quickly. He also has lots of time--but on the other hand, there's lots of ground to cover as well. The Americans must set up on the bottom board, while I am forced to split my forces between board 12 and the middle board, but I only have 14 squads and no dummies. Sure, I've got mines and an 81mm Mortar, but setting that stuff up always feels like a guessing game--which axis of advance will the Americans choose? What happens if he flanks left, when all my static assets are on the right? I'll probably spend some more time thinking about my defenses, although I do have a draft already done.

I also was recently approached by a fellow on Gamesquad to play some ASL CASLO style. I'm excited about this in the extreme. We were going to play the Singling CG, but he'd rather we play something simple first, so I can get used to it. Haven't figured that out yet.

So, that's a lot of ASL, to the point that I've started dreaming about it. It doesn't help that I've been sick lately and haven't gone outside to run in about a month (some weird inflammation in my lung). I think it's time I go read a book, or something.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My ASL New Year's Resolutions: looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014.

2013, from the perspective of completed New Year's resolutions, was a complete failure. I wrote an incredibly ambitious ASL resolution list and ended up meeting almost none of my goals. I tasked myself with playing too many scenarios than I could get through and also playing Red Barricades! The only things I did accomplish were done halfway: Win three games in the VASL tournament and Attend a Tournament. Well, I did win three games in the VASL tournament, but I was only granted two wins. During the final round I was extremely busy and couldn't meet schedule, so Enrico granted the win to my opponent. But we met back up later on and finished the game, and I won. So I halfway met this goal, but this year I want to officially have a 3-2 or better record. (However, my first game isn't looking too good.)

The second resolution, Attend a Tournament, also was only passingly met. I technically "attended," but I only drove down to the Bitter Ender on Saturday afternoon and played one game, then left. That's all I could muster with my schedule. Honestly, that's likely how things will pan out this year, too.

So what are my resolutions for this upcoming year? Play more ASL, but it can't be my whole life, obviously, which is what it would have been to do what I set out to do last year. I'm setting modest goals this time around:

  • Play 33 games in 2014. 33 games will get me to 100 Games Played of ASL, which will be a landmark. It's odd to think that the first ASL game I played was way back in 2007! Of course, I can't consider myself a 6 or 7 year ASLer, since I didn't play again until 2009. The bulk of my ASL plays are from 2009, 2012 and 2013, with stray games in between. Also, I think it is hilarious that I've played 68 games of ASL and still feel like a newbie and I'm still learning the game. (No, my math is not off; I've already played one game in 2014.)
  • Win Three Games in the VASL Tournament. Same as last year. 
  • Finish Organizing my gear. I bought a collection in 2009 which was poorly organized, and I've added to it over the years. I never did organize it completely. It's always depressing, though, when I discover something missing from the used kit I bought--like all the French and Italian concealment counters. And a couple of days ago, I realised that I don't have any German Armour Leader counters, unless they are hidden somewhere. I'll probably end up selling my DASLs and ASL News issues to buy a 3rd edition Beyond Valor, and hope MMP reissues the French and Italians rather soonish. 
  • Play more Face to Face. There are actually plenty of opponents in the area, but I have a weird work schedule which doesn't align with regular adults'. I also do play other games--a quasi-regular Friday game of Dead of Winter, once or twice a month AD&D sessions, and Euro-game get-togethers. Playing ASL face to face would require special considerations (see "finish organizing my gear"). Right now, with most of my ASL gaming on VASL, I enjoy the luxury of playing for a few hours, here and there, pretty much any time I want to, and with people from all over the world. But it would be great to play face to face and commune with the physical components now and then. 
  • Blog more often. One post a week should do it. I have some reviews and essays in the works, as well as the usual AARs. The best thing for me to do is to keep a schedule with the blog.
Well, that's it. Here's to another year of this madness!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Play an Unbalanced Dog

I'm really trying to get through my scenario list you know, and I'm almost done with all the scenarios from '85 and '86. I'm in it for the long haul and the experience of it, but many of these older scenarios are not particularly balanced according to ROAR. But who knows, perhaps they only seem unbalanced because over the years players have "solved" them, or assumptions and play styles have changed in a way that designers of nearly thirty years ago didn't anticipate.

What I do to get someone to play a shaggy-looking scenario is offer to take the weaker side. Like I said, I'm not playing to win all the time, but to experience the game and learn. Until I've played 100 games, I'm still a newbie as far as I'm concerned (I've played 67 ASL games and 49 Starter Kit games). I honestly try to avoid reading AARs of scenarios I'm about to play until after I've played them so that I can get the raw experience and figure things out myself. The best way to develop intuitions about playing ASL well is to play it, get schooled, and play again.

Well, I'm just getting started with G2 Last Act in Lorraine from 1986 which has a ROAR showing of 21-7 in favour of the Germans. (The DASL re-write, AD2 from the '89 Annual, is better at 17-12.) So...I'm taking the Americans with balance in a new PBEM game. And I'm scared. Mostly because I have 13 Shermans going against 3 VGs and 2 JgPz IVs which could blow my tanks away....and I'm weak on tanks.

This scenario is on the battle of Singling, which also has a small HASL devoted to it I'd like to play sometime, but haven't found an opponent for yet. Anyway, I don't want to post about my plans as of yet, but man, my initial smoke barrage didn't go too well. It drifted too far. I guess I'll be rolling in under fire.

German Setup after my smoke barrage


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review of ASL Blogs

There's been some discussion lately of ASL about ASL blogs, both on the Facebook group and on Gamesquad (which thread I did not discover until it was mentioned on The 2 Half-Squads). Well, I've been following and searching out ASL-oriented blogs for longer than this blog has existed (four and a half years now!) and thought it was time to write an overview of ASL blogs out there, to the extent that I'm aware of them.

I've often wondered to myself why there aren't even more blogs, and why most of them are updated so infrequently, especially compared to blogs about roleplaying games. My only idea is that playing ASL is a less creative activity, in that we aren't creating rules or game worlds, and creating scenarios requires more work than creating a dungeon, I'd imagine. Writing AARs can get tiresome, especially when you want lots of images with graphics added. And it can take time away from the game itself.

But not all blogs focus on AARs. Others are more about the culture of ASL, learning the game, tactics, or simply personal blogs. I consider my own blog to be personal, but obviously I write AARs too. I think I enjoy personal blogs more, since there are many, many sources on the internet for AARs, but a good blog devoted to them is nothing to ignore.

Without further ado, here's 27 ASL blogs in chronological order. Warning, though, these are mini-reviews and I have opinions!

Awesome blog! Too bad it died. This blog is still worth your time even though it's no longer updated, because it features several good articles as well as a long, multi-part SASL AAR. This is not an AAR-exclusive blog, but a thoughtful, well-written masterpiece.  

This is one of my favourites. Peter doesn't write a lot of intense AARs, but instead writes about the circumstances of playing--meeting people, plans for things he wants to do, stuff he wants to buy. This blog is a window into the mind of a fellow ASLer and his relationship with The Game. 
Another very good blog which suffered, I guess, from burnout. A hybrid personal/AAR blog, SWMA has several tournament write-ups and text-heavy AARs: no images! I love it. Todd writes gonzo-AARs, putting you right inside his head with all the decisions he makes during play. Some bloggers tend toward the objective, dispassionate AARs, writing reports of just what happened, but I dig this style of AAR which reminds you of the humanity of the game. 
This was a decent but short-lived personal blog. Mostly of interest for the many Red Barricades AAR postings. 
Ok, Banzai! is an awesome zine that most anyone acquainted with The Game is aware of. And this is (was?) one of the best sources for AARs on the web. Multiple contributors to this blog produce quality AARs, occasional reviews, thoughts about the game, and even jokes. There hasn't been a posting in over a year, though, so perhaps this one has died. Still, keep this one on your radar and check out the AARs. 
Exclusive focus on Solitaire ASL but the dude who is developing SASL CGs for Red Barricades, Blood Reef: Taraway, etc. Infrequently updated. I don't know much about this one, really. 
An intense, very detail-oriented AAR blog. I'm playing an e-mail game against this guy right now and his approach to log files is as methodical as his devotion to AARs. Rindis also posts on Board Game Geek quite a bit (he was Geek of the Week!), but I haven't checked to see if he duplicates content there that's on his blog. He also has a nice website.
In Spanish, so I don't actually read this one, but easily one of the most prolific blogs out there, and a must-read for the Spanish-speaking ASL community. Features not only AARs, but also articles and translations of English-language tactics articles. This guy is pure awesome. 
Nice but quiet personal blog. Nothing particularly flashy here, just a mix of AARs and life updates and occasional historical writing.
I mean, the guy is still active in the ASL community on Gamesquad (at least, I think so; I'm not on GS all that often myself), and he co-directs a PBEM tournament. But there hasn't been an update to this blog since January '13, so I'm not sure about the its future. And he has never posted very much anyway. You won't lose anything by adding this one to your blog list, but you won't gain much, either. 
This was at one point an extremely popular blog, but it ended abruptly and unexpectedly. The writer was learning the game, starting off with the Starter Kits, so this was a decent blog to follow if you were also learning the game, since he posted his eureka moments and shared every link he could find with helpful information about learning the game. To be honest, though, I kind of hated this blog. I got the impression that he actually played ASL only five or six times, but he spent a lot of time taking pictures of stuff he bought, including photos of the envelopes from MMP. Really, I don't need that. I also think that this blog may have been the origin of the image-intensive AAR which I don't like, but that's for another post. 

Supposedly a vehicle for fans to keep tabs on ASL development, but hasn't been updated in almost two years! Best bet to hear from Chas would be Gamesquad or Consimworld, I guess.
Does this blog even need an introduction? I suppose it's possible that not everyone realises that Mark Pitcavage started a blog, given that he doesn't update frequently. But if you haven't looked at this, you should. This is actually less a blog than a repository for ASLOK images and thoughtful, well-written essays. Mr. Pitcavage is one of the best writers in ASL-dom, and his website a vital resource for newbies and obsessives. 
Ian's blog may be the most popular AAR blog in the world. I don't really know. I do know that most of my traffic comes from his blog since he put me in his blogroll. He used to have torrential output, blogging (I guess) every game he played, and he played upwards of 70 to 80 games a year; but he also reviews products, posts brief interviews, book reviews, etc. Output has considerably slowed as of late, which is to be expected--he had to have been spending a ton of time on the blog. But honestly, I think the quality of the writing has improved as he posts less; older AARs could be at times quite rambly and hard to follow, but with such a quantity of writing that also is to be expected at times. 
Stephen Brasseur's blog hasn't been updated in nearly a year as of this writing, so I'm not sure it's still going, but this one is well worth adding to you heap of reads in case more posts pop up. I almost didn't add this blog to the list because it is not ASL exclusive--but Mr. Brasseur is an old-school ASL grognard whose name I'm sure I've seen in THE GENERAL, plus there is a ton of ASL content. His AARs are nearly perfect, with a good mix of text and image, description of what he was thinking during play, scenario analysis, and banter. 
Another AAR-focussed blog, infrequently updated. Roy burned out and quit ASL back in January, then returned with a vengeance and a HUGE post about the Texas ASL tournament in June, but the blog went quiet again. Hopefully we will see more in the future. 
"Sometimes it's hard being an international jet setting ASL player," Dave writes. He has several posts about his trip to Switzerland to play ASL and more for ASLOK; seems to update only when off at an event. There's not much to see here, but it's all wonderful. Dave's writings situate the act of playing within the broader context of who he's meeting and where he's going, giving you a glimpse at the culture and people who play the game. This is my favourite sort of "AAR."
Excellent blog, one of the best and most prolific. Plenty of AARs, but when I think of this blog I think of stats and the math of ASL. Written by Tim Hundsdorfer, another ASL old-school dude. Writing is of the highest caliber, and brimming with good ideas. And ads. But seriously, if there ever were a third edition of the rules, this guy should be on the committee. 
Only barely a blog; mostly links and some useful tables. The reason you want to go here is to learn about ASLAPP.
I only very recently stumbled across Bruce Probst's blog, who is semi-famous in ASL for something or other. I've seen the name, at least. He hardly posts at all, but it looks alive, at least. A nice personal blog; there's something cozy about his writing, as though he's invited you in for a chat. And he's a Tolkien fan, so thumbs-up there.
J. R. Tracy's BoardGameGeek blog is an AAR blog which focuses on game nights rather than games. It isn't ASL-exclusive, but ASL gets played about every week, so you should check it out. Nice images which show the players enjoying themselves. Consistently great. 
I'm thinking this off-beat little thing was simply a two-month affair. Seems like a newish player got excited, started blogging, then forgot about it. The very few AARs he wrote were pretty good, though, with an emphasis on describing the situation and his plans. 
Pure, unadulterated AAR blog. Extremely prolific, this guy obviously plays a ton of ASL, by email, face to face, and live on VASL. In my opinion, Curtis needs to slow it down a little because the writing is going down in quality--more recent AARs are just photos with commentary, really. AAR blogs can suffer from the meatgrinder of trying to post every game you play.

And now for a handful of new blogs for 2013:
Only three days old as of this writing, only time will tell if this local (to me) blogger will keep at it. File under the "chronicles of getting into the game" heading.
Perhaps the spiritual successor to Triple Point-Blank Fire, in that Jackson writes about learning the game and provides links to good resources for people to get into the game. AARs are epic with a ton of graphics. Jackson is also very engaged with the broader ASL community, referencing other blogs and going out of his way to comment on other people's work. Easily the most important new blog out there. 
Oh, shit! I don't know what to think of this one, and I don't know if it is still going, but I hope so. This guy writes very long AARs in which he discusses the scenario at length, his plans going in, and then blends fictional narratives in alongside his report of the game. I love it! I haven't seen anything like it in the blogosphere. Really the only downside is that the posts might be way too long. 
Keep an eye on this one...Mark is a very regular opponent of mine, and many of the AARs I've posted are of games with him. And he's brilliant, so I expect this blog will be a good read as long as he keeps it up.

Another hyper-new AAR-oriented blog written by a new player. Only one AAR so far so here's to hoping things last!

Welp, that's it. There are a handful of other blogs out there with so few posts and so dead that I didn't bother adding them, but please send me more links in the comments. I'm always looking for new blogs; we need them! (And yes, I'm aware I left out Sitrep, but I consider that a storefront, not really a blog.) With so many brand-new blogs, hopefully the future of ASL on the internet is bright!